When you volunteer at a major event you can be sure of having a story to tell and of making friends from around the world. Two people who can vouch for that are Danielle Gilson of Rio de Janeiro and Diana Maes of Florianopolis, who were both in Salvador on Thursday for the launch of the Volunteer Programme for the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
The duo were there to tell prospective candidates about their experience as volunteers, which in Danielle’s case is extensive to say the least. A lawyer by profession, she had her first taste of volunteering at the 2007 Pan-American Games and followed up by helping out at the 2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup and then at the Preliminary Draw for Brazil 2014 in July last year, all three events taking place in her hometown of Rio.
“Working just for the love of it really gives you a lift,” she explained. “It’s tiring and you have to be responsible and punctual, but the reward is knowing that there’s a little bit of you in that event. It’s a really nice feeling.”
Danielle’s interest in volunteering was born out of her love for sport. When she was 19 she was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer, losing most of the movement in her legs within a month. Now 38, she needs crutches or a wheelchair to get around, though she still manages to get down to Copacabana beach for a swim twice a week, come rain or shine.
“To my mind the role of physically challenged volunteers is to show that they can make just as big a contribution as anyone else,” she said.
With Brazil 2014 being staged in 12 cities in all, Danielle is convinced that the culture of volunteering will spread right across the country: “It’s going to be great to see this movement take over Brazil, right from Porto Alegre to Manaus. Brazilian people like to help and support others and get involved, and we’re going to show the world that we’re capable of organising an event as big as this.”
Fellow volunteer Diana, who works in marketing in Florianopolis, was on duty at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, having decided to lend a helping hand because of her passion for sport and with half an eye already on volunteering for Brazil 2014.
“I’m convinced the World Cup is going to be a big success in Brazil, and that includes volunteering,” she said. “I saw for myself how successful South Africa was. They staged the best possible show, and we’re every bit as dynamic, proactive and receptive as they are.”
Thanks to her experiences at the last FIFA World Cup, Diana made friends with people from Poland, Australia, Mozambique and Chile, and keeps in touch with them through social networking sites.
If you are interested in following their example and enjoying a similar experience at the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, just click on the link “Brasil 2014 - Voluntários” on the right of this page and apply to join the LOC’s Volunteer Programme.